Flash! Future: Freelance Writing

WELCOME TO FLASH! FUTURE! In last week’s post we took a look back at the writers it’s been our pleasure featuring here at Fire&Ice. And then we craned our necks even further and revisited interviews with a few writing professionals from old Flash! Friday times, such as Carol Tice and Lisa Crayton.

Today I’m excited to share with you a couple of recent interviews—including one from just this week—Carol Tice gave on building a freelance writing business via nonfiction and other types of writing. [Even dragon-writers need to pay rent, eh? 😀 ] Can writers still make money during a pandemic? Carol Tice says the answer’s a resounding yes, even for writers new to nonfiction. It’s a different direction than we usually follow here at F&I, but I found her practical, experience-based suggestions to be as inspiring & encouraging as ever. I hope you do too!

How to Break Into Freelance Writing in 2020

How to Recession-Proof Your Writing Business

Flash! Future: The ReVisit

WELCOME BACK to the Future! What a blast Deb and I have had these past few months sharing parts of our personal writerly journeys with you. I don’t know much of anything myself 😀 , which makes this lifelong road of listening and learning a rich and glorious adventure! What a joy sharing words from writers whose unique perspectives and fresh approaches to stories have changed the way we see the world and our role as writers in it. In case you missed any of them, here’s a quick recap:

Following the theme of learning, in these few remaining weeks we want to share with you some tools and resources that motivate and challenge Deb and me as word-students. And I’m going to start—if you’ll forgive me—with a quick look to the past. 

Flash! Friday was a contest that ran from 2012-2015, and in that period, as now, we often enjoyed the privilege of interviewing or featuring various professionals in writing and publishing. Some of those original interviews chase me still. There’s a trove of encouraging advice to be found in them—as in the Flash!Future posts listed above—that we hope will continue to inspire you (as it does us) even after Fire&Ice closes. So please pour a fresh cup of coffee and join me in this meaty, practical, helpful/hopeful (re)visit to three memorable Spotlights. 

One of our original logos, 2012

Interview with Carol Tice, award-winning freelance writer, writing coach. 

[Carol Tice] I can’t emphasize enough that people should not be too reliant on Amazon. They need to be creative. I hear from people all the time who say, “I put out my ebook and nothing happened!” or, “I wrote my novel, and now I’m going to start blogging to promote it!” I don’t want to be the one to tell them they did that in the wrong order. 

You need to think about what you can do to get people excited about your book. You want to think of a marketing schedule to create multiple inflection points for people to get excited about it.

Interview with Lisa Crayton, award-winning author (including two-time recognition as a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers), freelance writer, editor, speaker. {Sidenote: Do. Not. Miss. her powerful & practical thread from July on “25 Ways to Amplify Black and POC Voices.”}

[Lisa Crayton] It always comes down to, Is your writing up to par?

You need to be in critique groups for your genre. It’s important to let people critique your work, and be willing to learn from them and revise. Be sure your work is evaluated by people in your own genre, those who are an authority on your specific kind of writing. Above all, you have to be teachable. It’s not enough to come to an editor and say, “My mama liked it, my friends liked it, my friend’s brother wanted to put it on a t-shirt….” Regarding interest in your work, it’s a different story when you can tell editors or agents your work has been through a critique group and you have rewritten it a number of times.

You have to be brave enough to hear constructive criticism. To improve your writing, take free online classes, or low-cost classes at your local community college, where you have people telling you the truth about your writing. 

Interview with Jeff Gerke, writer (including writing craft books for Writer’s Digest), editor. (Note: his original interview now includes a personal 2020 update for Fire&Ice)

[Jeff Gerke] I struggled… for years. I mean, if novelists who do all the craft stuff wrong can become bestsellers, and if novelists who do all the craft stuff right usually don’t become bestsellers, what in the world am I doing, you know? Why am I spending all my time and energy in this training if it apparently doesn’t amount to a more successful novel or novelist? It couldn’t be that readers just prefer bad craftsmanship. It had to be something else.

It finally occurred to me that what the bestsellers were doing—even if they did it with poor craft—and what the non-bestsellers weren’t doing—even if they did it with great craft—was snaring the reader and not letting go.

So now all my teaching has shifted. Now I’m all about what will engage the reader.


Flash! Future: Writing the Other

WELCOME BACK, Flash! Futureites! We’re halfway through NaNoWriMo—how’re participants faring??—and a dragon-scale’s thickness shy of 75% complete with this grand Fire&Ice adventure! In our last Flash! Future post (find it here) we got to meet one of Canada’s biggest #OwnVoices Indigenous authors Cherie Dimaline. One of the things that stood out to me most about Dimaline’s writing philosophy is her decision to write strictly from a Métis community experience. When asked in an interview with Publishing Perspectives about how “diversity [is] perceived and understood within Indigenous cultures” (there are over 600 First Nations communities in Canada alone), Dimaline had this to say:

It’s imperative when we tell stories in an Indigenous context that we’re in connection to the nation(s) that we’re speaking of—or speaking on behalf of—even in fiction.

She adds:

Taking a pan-Indigenous approach doesn’t work. Taking a colonial viewpoint doesn’t work. This changes the narrative of specific nations and is highly problematic. It leads to misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and stereotypes.

Her commitment to respectfully grow her characters out of the ground she knows—her Métis roots—reminds me of two episodes from the podcast Writing Excuses that have been profoundly helpful for me in thinking about what stories are mine to tell, and how I can honor the voices of others around me. Click the episode titles below to listen. Also, we’d love to hear your thoughts! When it comes to writing diverse stories, are there resources you’ve found to be invaluable? Advice you’ve been given that guides you? Do share in the comments!

1st Writing Excuses Episode

14.21: Writing The Other — Yes, You Can!

Episode description: “The single most asked question we get on the subject of writing cultures other than our own is some variation on “can we even DO this anymore?” Short answer: YES, YOU CAN. Our objective with this episode is to encourage you to put in the work, do the research, and write outside of your culture or personal experience. At risk of sounding cliché, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”

2nd Writing Excuses Episode

15.40: Researching for Writing the Other

Episode description: Writing stories which feature people who are not like you is, in a word, difficult. In another word? Fraught. But good writers do difficult things, and in this episode Nisi Shawl and Silvia Moreno-Garcia join us to discuss how research can make “writing the other” less difficult, and perhaps even less fraught.”